It's expensive and could be faster, but the Priv is a return to form for BlackBerry that elegantly combines a keyboard with a modern phone
Processor: Hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808, Screen Size: 5.4in, Screen resolution: 2,560×1,440, Rear camera: 18 megapixels, Storage: 32GB (24GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 147x77x9.4mm, Weight: 192g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1
Considering BlackBerry’s raison d’être is security, it seems odd to me that there isn’t a fingerprint sensor here. The Priv does offer several ways to lock your phone, including a picture password, but when a lot of high-end Android phones are now moving towards including fingerprint sensors, it seems strange that BlackBerry hasn’t followed suit.
BlackBerry’s DTEK app was also a little disappointing. This one-stop security service app does several things right, such as telling you how to improve your phone’s overall security and giving you the option to encrypt your data, but its app overview isn’t quite as extensive as I would have hoped. This lets you know exactly what data your apps have access to and how many times it’s accessed those bits of data.
^ DTEK’s app window will show you what information has been accessed by your apps, but short of uninstalling it, there’s not a lot you can do to stop it accessing it again
However, rather than giving you the option to alter individual app permissions, so you can keep your personal info under tight lock and key, the only options are to forcibly stop the app, uninstall it, or set up an alert for when that app tries to access something you think it shouldn’t, such as Dropbox attempting to use your microphone. This doesn’t strike me as being particularly useful, but it should be fixed once the Priv gets an Android 6.0 Marshmallow update, which BlackBerry promised would be coming in the New Year.
The only area where it feels like BlackBerry’s cut corners is the underlying chipset. It might have 3GB of RAM, but the hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor lags behind other 2015 flagships, as most tend to use the faster, octa-core Snapdragon 810. It’s not even quite as fast as other 808-based smartphones either, as its GeekBench 3 scores of 1,155 in the single core test and 3,433 in the multicore test are just behind the Moto X Style’s respective scores of 1,243 and 3,579, and that only costs £400 SIM-free as opposed to the Priv’s £560. The S6 Edge is faster still, trumping the Priv by more than double in the multicore test alone. The Priv is still pretty quick in everyday use, but it’s not as fast as it should be given the price.
The Priv’s graphics performance was also decidedly underwhelming for such an expensive handset, although this is admittedly less important considering its enterprise credentials. Still, those hoping to get in a quick game between meetings or on the commute home might be disappointed, as its offscreen Manhattan test score only equated to 936 frames (or 15fps) in GFX Bench GL, making demanding games like Hearthstone a tad jerky at times. It was still smooth enough to play when I tried a game for myself, but it’s not quite as smooth as it could be. Other games such as Threes! and Alphabear ran perfectly fine, though.
Thankfully, its Peacekeeper score of 1,390 was much more promising, as this actually puts it ahead of the S6 Edge and just in front of the Sony Xperia Z3+. As a result, web browsing was very smooth indeed. Scrolling through pages with videos, adverts and lots of images produced very few signs of stutter on the whole, and pinch-zooming was very slick and responsive.
With a 3,410mAh battery, the Priv has plenty of staying-power, but I must admit I was a little underwhelmed by its performance in our continuous video playback test. With the screen set to 170cd/m2, the Priv lasted just 11h 11m, which isn’t particularly great considering the size of the battery.
The S6 Edge, for instance, has a smaller 2,600mAh battery, but lasted over 15 and a half hours under the same conditions. However, it’s still more enough to get you through the day, and its quick charge support should make it easy to top-up if you get caught short. One thing you don’t have to worry about is storage, as the Priv comes with 32GB as standard but supports microSD cards up to a whopping 2TB.
|Hexa-core 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808
|Memory card slot (supplied)
|One year RTB
|Price SIM-free (inc VAT)
|Price on contract (inc VAT)
|Free on £49-per-month contract
|Prepay price (inc VAT)